Ahead of the roll-out of the expansion to free early education entitlements, local authorities across England have warned there may not be enough childcare places to meet demand.
From April eligible parents of two-year-olds will be offered 15 free hours per week of free childcare. In September, this will be available for children from nine months until the start school.
From September 2025, eligible parents will get 30 free hours from nine months until the start of school.
New research from the campaign group Coram has found that 60% of councils are ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ that there will be enough places to meet demand for the April 2024 expansion.
The majority (88%) said the ongoing challenges to recruit and retain staff for the local childcare workforce was a ‘barrier’ to the delivery of more places.
Nearly two thirds (64%) identified ‘sufficiency of childcare places for children with SEND’ as a barrier to delivery and 55% cited ‘funding to support children with SEND’ as another potential issue.
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